Preventing Elder Abuse

Preventing Elder Abuse

“San Diego County handles approximately 9,000 cases of elder and dependent adult abuse each year. Many other incidents go unreported, leaving vulnerable adults in distressing, potentially life-changing, even dangerous, situations.

Abuse often escalates if there is no intervention. Victims will live in silent desperation, unwilling to seek assistance because they believe their cries for help will go unanswered and they fear retaliation from their abusers. Many remain silent to protect abusive family members from the legal consequences of their crimes, or they are too embarrassed to admit that they have fallen victim to predators.”

…from the San Diego District Attorney

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office publishes extensive information about the prevention of elder abuse on their site.

Topics include:

  • Warning Signs of Elder Abuse
  • Prosecuting Elder Abuse
  • The Importance of Reporting Elder Abuse
  • Reporting Abuse in Licensed Facilities

Elder Abuse Hotline (SD County) 1-800-510-2020

AltaGolden works with our clients to help prevent abuse as well as to get assistance when they run into trouble.

The following two examples demonstrate recent assistance provided.


On the day we were signing up a couple as new clients they pulled out a folder from an alleged home health organization with whom they’d signed up for health care related services. The brochures looked very professional and, on the surface, the services looked to be pretty good.

As we reviewed the brochure, however, there was no information on how to arrange for services, service limits, or guarantees. On further investigation we discovered that their website testimonials were fabricated (we spoke with one of them and were told the services were awful). They listed two office locations–one was a vacant lot and the other was a dry cleaning store. And, there was an attorney general investigation against them in another state. They had paid $1500 for six months of service but had not been able to use the service.

We contacted the police who contacted Adult Protective Services. We called the man who sold them the policy and wrote a follow-up letter outlining the fraud. We required full refund or we would press charges. Our clients received a full refund.


Another of our clients signed up for pre-need insurance from a crematorium. A very polished and high pressure presentation was given and the couple paid $1800 each for a pre-need cremation policy that should have cost them no more than about $800-1,000 per person. AltaGolden worked with the couple to get their money back. Since that time the husband passed away and we worked with the wife to arrange all services, which ended up costing $750.


There is a scam being perpetrated against older adults that we want to warn you about. It has become very common and you need to be aware and have the discussion within your family about this type of thing. The usual scenario is that someone claiming to be an attorney representing a grandchild will call and say that their grandchild is in trouble and needs money to pay for bail and attorney fees. They then provide a Western Union address (frequently in Mexico or Canada) for wiring money. Alternately, a young person claiming to be the problem child will call an older adult claiming to be their grandchild, they are in trouble, and they are horribly embarrassed so promise not to tell mom and dad. The loving grandparent will wire the money but the whole thing is a scam.


There are also a lot of email scams out there. Many of these come from banking email addresses, mortgage companies, etc. These emails instruct you to open a zip file or go to a website and update your profile or change your password. These are all scams. Never open an attachment or link and never provide updated profile information unless you have first verified with the organization that the updates are valid. You are opening yourself up to identity theft, which can take years and thousands of dollars to resolve.


A common scam over the last few years has been when someone claiming to be from the IRS calls to say that money is owed and it must be paid immediately. They will try to either get you to give a debit card over the phone or they will instruct you to purchase a Visa gift card and give that number over the phone or meet in a parking lot. The IRS will NEVER contact you over the phone. They will never take a card number over the phone or have you but a Visa gift card to make payment. Don’t fall for any stories or threats. If money is owed to the IRS they will send you a letter. The IRS will not contact you over the phone.